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Ichiro to start another All-Star Game
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07/04/2004  7:00 PM ET
Ichiro to start another All-Star Game
Closer Guardado left off American League roster
tickets for any Major League Baseball game
Ichiro Suzuki becomes the second Mariner to start four All-Star Games in a row. (Duane Burleson/AP)

ST. LOUIS -- In one of the great comebacks in All-Star voting history, Mariners right fielder Ichiro Suzuki surged from sixth to third in the last two weeks of voting and earned his fourth straight starting assignment in the Midsummer Classic.

He joins Vladimir Guerrero of the Angels and Manny Ramirez of the Red Sox in the American League's starting outfield for the July 13 All-Star Game at Minute Maid Park in Houston.

Ichiro will be the Mariners' only representative, the first time that has happened since 1999, when Ken Griffey Jr., was the only Seattle player selected.

"It was a lot easier to tell five guys last year than only one this year," manager Bob Melvin said. "It is well-deserved. Ichiro is a perennial All-Star and there is no telling how many starts in the All-Star Game he will run off before he's finished."

Ichiro joins Griffey as the only Mariners to be selected to four consecutive All-Star teams. Junior reeled off 10 straight All-Star seasons from 1990-99.

Ichiro accepted congratulations quietly following the Mariners' 2-1 loss to the Cardinals on Sunday afternoon at Busch Stadium.

2004 All-Star Game

"I am honored to get to go to the All-Star Game," he said through his interpreter. "But I would rather be going with some of my teammates."

The Mariners right fielder finished with 1,891,136 votes to finish behind Guerrero (3,024,870) and Ramirez (2,682,121), and slightly ahead of Yankees Hideki Matsui (1,855,118).

Ichiro went into the final three days of the fan voting with 1,207,614 votes, but was closing in on Matsui, who had 1,264,633 votes at the time. Guerrero and Ramirez were one-two throughout the voting process.

"I didn't know how many votes anyone had," Ichiro said. "I didn't really follow it."

As recently as two weeks ago, Ichiro was lagging far behind the outfield leaders. He had 747,996 votes after the fourth week of voting, putting him in sixth place. He was less than 12,000 votes behind Boston center fielder Johnny Damon, but more almost 250,000 behind third-place Sheffield, who had 897,191 votes.

But Ichiro, trying to become the first player in MLB history to have at least 200 hits in each of his first four seasons, came on strong at the end.

He was the leading vote-getter in each of his first three seasons, receiving more than eight million votes.

"We haven't been playing as well this year, and fans probably haven't been following us as much as in the past," he said. "But comparing it to the last three years, I am more surprised [to be a starter]."

Second baseman Bret Boone, a Mariners All-Star in 2001 and '03, said having just one player selected this season, "Epitomizes our first half. We were fortunate in recent years to have several players selected and to be honest with you, not too many guys got much consideration.

   Eddie Guardado  /   P
Born: 10/02/70
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 205 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: L

"You look at Eddie [Guardado], he deserved some consideration, but we didn't give him enough [save] opportunities."

Guardado's streak of All-Star Game appearances apparently ends at two. He could be selected as an injury replacement, and the numbers he has had so far definitely are worthy of the Midsummer Classic.

The left-hander has a 1.19 ERA in 32 appearances with 15 saves in 18 save opportunities.

"We haven't given Eddie enough chances to get enough saves," Melvin said. "His internal numbers are certainly deserving of going."

The final two All-Star roster spots will be filled by the fans.

Now in its third year, the Ameriquest 2004 All-Star Final Vote gives baseball fans around the world the opportunity to select the final position player on each All-Star team.

Balloting began immediately following Sunday night's Major League All-Start Selection Show and continues until 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday. The winners will be announced at 9 p.m. ET exclusively on MLB.com and will then be added to the AL and NL All-Star Game rosters.

Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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